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  • Friday, March 15, 2024 at 2:11 PM
    Last Update : Tuesday, March 19, 2024 at 6:11 AM

Yemeni Minister Warns Harm from Houthi-Sunk Ship Could Last for Years

(AWP) - Yemen’s Minister of Water and Environment warned of repercussions that could last for many years as a result of the sinking of the ship Rubymar by the Houthi group, which struck Rubymar with a rocket off the Yemeni coast in February.

The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) in the Red Sea confirmed that Rubymar sank after being hit by a ballistic missile, adding that the sunken ship posed a collision hazard to other ships transiting the waterway.

Yemeni Prime Minister of Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak warned this week of a “major environmental disaster” from the sinking of Rubymar.

Environmental experts have already spotted an oil slick some 30 kilometers away, which they say was caused by the leakage of some of the ship's load of fertilizers.

Tawfik al-Sharjabi, in an interview with the Arab World Press (AWP) at his office, said the ship carried 22,000 tons of inorganic fertilizers, which could damage coral reefs in the area.

“The ship Rubymar held 22,000 tons of inorganic fertilizers –ammonium phosphate and sulfate – in addition to fuel necessary for the ship's movement. Some oil leakage from the ship fuel has already been reported, but nothing has been reported about leakage from the fertilizer consignment. Some slicks have been spotted via satellite imaging, and the field teams have taken samples for examination,” said Sharjabi.

On March 4, the ship Rubymar reportedly sank, nearly two weeks after the Houthi group attacked it. This is the first ship to have sunk after being targeted since the beginning of the current crisis months ago.

“The damage is certainly huge, and could take years to clear. If inorganic fertilizers have leaked into the marine ecosystem, algae could spread widely, leading to hazards to coral reefs, in the form of obscured sunlight and lack of oxygen. This would have a negative impact on the vital balance in marine life, and consequently cause fish to perish,” explained the Yemeni minister.

He pointed out that the Yemeni economy, already suffering from years of war between the Houthis and the internationally-recognized government, could lose 2 or 3% of its GDP due to a potential crisis in the fisheries sector.

“This would be a huge problem,” he admitted.